Glacier thickening and decay analysis from 50 years of glaciological observations performed on Glacier d'Argentière, Mont Blanc area, France

C. Vincent, A. Soruco, D. Six, E. L.E. Meur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Numerous glaciological data have been obtained from measurements carried out on Glacier d'Argentière, Mont Blanc area, France, since the beginning of the 20th century. Moreover, data on annual mass balance, ice-flow velocity, thickness variation and length fluctuation have been obtained from yearly measurements performed since 1975. This dataset provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the relationships between surface mass balance and dynamic response over time periods during which net mass balance changed from positive to negative. Following a positive specific-net-balance period between 1960 and 1981, the ablation zone experienced a large increase in thickness and ice-flow velocities. Conversely, the highly negative specific-net-balance period since 1982 has led to strong thinning, deceleration and retreat of the tongue. The response of these observed dynamics to surface mass balance is analyzed from ice-flux calculations performed on three transverse cross-sections. Our results reveal that the ice fluxes are largely accommodated by ice-flow velocities. Velocity fluctuations are synchronous over the entire area studied. In the largest part of the glacier, no compressing/ extending flow change has been observed over the last 30 years and thickness changes are solely driven by surface mass-balance changes. However, on the tongue of the glacier, thickness changes do not depend on surface mass balance but are mainly driven by changes in the longitudinal strain rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Volume50
Issue number50
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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